Microsoft is rolling out a major new Bing Maps upgrade as it seeks to reel in Google’s gigantic lead in the sector.
The new ‘preview version,’ which is available today, brings a ton of new features that appear to give Redmond’s online offering parity with Google Maps and perhaps even better it in many ways.
The main addition appears to be the 'results cards' that appear when searching for a location within Bing Maps. They feature opening hours, contact information, directions, nearby attractions like hotels and restaurants, photos, a description and reviews from sites like Trip Advisor.
Better still, users will be able to stack multiple cards from previous searches, making it easy to plan a day around town or a night on the tiles. This will be particularly handy if you’re looking for somewhere to eat after visiting a tourist attraction, for example.
Clicking on a restaurant allows you to view the menu, read Yelp reviews and even make a reservation there and then through OpenTable.com integration.
Each type of activity is colour coded both on the Map face and in the left-sided information cards too.
Beyond the new results cards, it’s now say to interact with the map face too. Just right click on a location in order to get directions, save it to favourites or even view the streetside photography, which Microsoft also claimed to have improved.
Elsewhere, Bing Maps now now features ‘predictive routing’ to help drivers avoid traffic. Inputting the time of day you wish to travel will alert you to congestion and will suggest faster routes. There’s also a new Along the Route tool which will showcase hotels, restaurants and gas stations that feature along your planned journey.
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Finally, Microsoft has added the ability to share travel plans with others view an email that’ll show a set of results cards, while users will be able to save their destinations to ‘My Places.’
The desktop version is available to preview today, while the Bing Maps mobile app is also due for an overhaul in the near future, Microsoft hints.